Last year, I ran the torchlight 5k race for the first time, because a friend of mine really wanted to do it. I’m not big on 5k races, and I don’t really know why. I prefer to run long distances, but I’m usually more successful (ranking wise) at the shorter distances. And they’re pretty fun too since you’re only miserable for like 20 minutes! We decided to run again this year, and another friend of mine happened to be in town, so she was able to run it too!
After a few weeks of marathon training in really hot weather, we were lucky to have a non-humid 80 degree race day. The cool thing about the torchlight 5k is that it’s right before a big parade in Minneapolis, so the run is at 7:30pm and the course is along the parade route. Races are normally so early in the morning, but I always feel much faster running in the afternoon/evening!
My friend and I tried to eat dinner with enough time to digest and headed to the race start. The weather was a little hot, but not unbearable, so it was a nice evening to hang out for a little bit. The race partitions people by start time (they literally have fences up), which meant I had to separate from my friends, but I really appreciate that they try to help everyone out by keeping the paces separated so you don’t end up trying to race a 5k behind an 8 year old who lined up in the front.
After a rocky few months of races and training, I didn’t quite know where my fitness was at. I’m feeling much better than I did in May and June, but I’ve also been doing really slow long runs, and haven’t ran a sub-7 minute mile since May! In fact, I haven’t done any speed work since then. My 5K PR was at a 6:40 pace, but I was unsure if I could do that again, so I lined up in the 7:00 pace start corral. I tend to feel really insecure around other “real” runners and wasn’t really confident in what I could do that race, but something told me to move up to the first wave, because I knew I could at least run a sub 7 minute mile for the first mile, and then I would see how I felt from there.
I was really nervous at the start of the race. I had a lot of uncertainty of how my body would do, but I also was so hungry for a PR after not getting near one for my half marathon this year. My mouth was so dry it hurt to breathe! Yikes!
Another issue was that the strava app on my watch has been acting up recently, and after following all of their troubleshooting, it was STILL being buggy for the race. I felt like we were further into the race than what my watch was showing, and it seemed like we were running faster than my pace showed. I pushed myself really hard to keep up and to hit the 6:40 goal pace, but it was HARD.
We turned the corner by the river, which I knew was about half way, and I didn’t think I could keep going, so I slowed down a lot to try to calm myself down. I kept telling myself that it’s only a few more minutes and tried to keep up with the people in front of me, although some people started to pass me.
I was looking for the bridge that we crossed to the finish line, but it felt like miles away (literally!). Not knowing the exact distance on my watch made it feel like forever! Once I got to the bridge, there was a little uphill, but I hit it pretty strong knowing that it should be downhill to the finish line from there. Although, at the top of the bridge, I couldn’t see the finish line so I was panicking that we had like another half mile to go.
Thankfully, the finish line was right around the corner. I saw 20:24 as I was crossing and had a wave of happiness hit me when I realized that I had in fact beat my PR, by 18 seconds!
I ended up running at a 6:34 pace, which I really did not think that I could do. I placed 14th out of 264 women in my age group, and 39th out of 1341 women, which felt really good given that it was a pretty competitive race. It always feels good to know your hard work is paying off!
In the end, I don’t know if it helped me or hurt me that I thought I was running much slower than I had been due to the missed data. Maybe I wouldn’t have pushed so hard if I knew I had actually been running a PR pace? Either way, I’m still arguing with strava about it.
The end of the race festival was super fun, and both my friends had really good times as well. After some disappointing race results earlier this year, it feels really good to have a positive one under my belt as I get into the hardest months of marathon training! I feel like I always have the worst of luck for races, so to have one go really well feels like such a luxury!
I’ve also been working really hard on trying to visualize success more often, and compliment myself as I’m running, and I think it’s helping. It sounds so corny, but I’ve been telling myself things like “you’re doing a really good job” during long runs, and trying to dwell on that instead of things like “I have another hour to be running” or “I feel so tired”. I recommend trying positive affirmations during stressful times!